Cavaliers, Trail Blazers among teams on upset alert after first weekend of NBA playoffs – USA TODAY


SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt on how the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics pulled off big Game 1 wins. USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James reacts in the second quarter against the Indiana Pacers in Game 1.(Photo: David Richard, USA TODAY Sports)

We knew this year’s NBA playoffs could be different.

Several series in the first round could go either way, and we’re seeing that develop after the first weekend of games, with two higher seeds losing the series opener, another high seed requiring overtime and a No. 1 seed having trouble with a No. 8 seed.

The West is deep. Minnesota was the final team in but finished the regular season just one game out of fourth place. The Timberwolves are not a normal eight seed, as James Harden pointed out. They’re similar to an NCAA tournament team that was underseeded and has a chance to beat the higher seed.

The playoffs were unusual before they even started – the top three seeds in the East weren’t the oddsmakers’ favorites to win the conference title. That was Cleveland, the fourth seed, which lost Game 1 to fifth-seeded Indiana.

Injuries could play a role, too. Even though Boston beat Milwaukee in Game 1, the Celtics are without Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, and of course, Gordon Hayward.

A look at three upset possibilities in the first round:

Indiana (5) vs. Cleveland (4)

It’s way early, and LeBron James pointed out he’s been down 3-1 in the NBA Finals and won the series, so he’s not going to freak out about losing Game 1 of the first round. And James’ track record in the first round is spotless. He’s never lost a first-round series.

While not

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